Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell
What's Your Story?
“What’s your story?” Joe asked me.
Joe was my friend’s bf. I met him at a grad school party.
I laughed because I liked his approach—it seemed a great way to strike up a conversation. Instead of asking me the typical “get to know you” questions, he invited me to share whatever I wanted.
I’m sure he gleaned some really interesting info—what people lead with and how they convey their story says a lot about them.
And, how we frame our story is powerful.
When Joe asked me that question, I don’t remember what I said. Since I’d just met him, I’m sure my answer was fairly generic.
But if I’d been honest with him and shared the story I was currently telling myself at this time in my life, it would have been something like this:
“My story? Well, I’m getting a Ph.D. in psychology and doing well in my program. So, my career is on track and I’m grateful and excited. But . . . when it comes to my personal life, everything’s a mess—because frankly, I’m unlucky in love. Relationships have always been a struggle—they’re a struggle to find, a struggle to maintain, and struggle to get over. Plus, I don’t know if I believe in true love anymore and even if I do, I’m pretty sure it’s not meant for me.”
I shared my story this weekend at Modern Dating Mindset Dallas.
Because it’s such a clear example of the power of our mindset—and how at this time in my life, my mindset was making me miserable.
The negative lens through which I viewed my past contributed to sadness I felt in my present and robbed me of hope for my future.
I didn’t have to do that.
I wish I’d chosen a different lens. I wish I’d told myself a different story. I wish I’d written a different narrative.
I could have framed my narrative as, “Well, so far, love hasn’t played out as planned. And yes, I’ve been cheated on and had my heart broken, but I’ve broken hearts, too. And I recognize that every failed relationship teaches me valuable lessons as to what I want in a man and what qualities don’t work for me. So although the past has been rough, I know the future is bright because every breakup with Mr. Wrong brings me closer to Mr. Right.”
That’s a drastically different narrative—one that’s hopeful and empowering.
I could have chosen hope and empowerment, but I didn’t.
I didn’t then, but I do now.
So, what’s your story?
P.S. For more info on the power of our stories, check out Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends by Narrative Therapy founders, Michael White and David Epson.